Minstrel shows emerged from preindustrial European traditions of masking and carnival. But in the US they began in the s, with working class white men dressing up as plantation slaves. These men imitated black musical and dance forms, combining savage parody of black Americans with genuine fondness for African American cultural forms.
See Article History Alternative Title: The tradition reached its zenith between and Although the form gradually disappeared from the professional theatres and became purely a vehicle for amateurs, its influence endured—in vaudevilleradio, and television as well as in the motion-picture and world-music industries of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The earliest minstrel shows were staged by white Minstrel shows minstrels traveling musicians who, with their faces painted black, caricatured the singing and dancing of slaves.
Scholars usually distinguish this form of the tradition as blackface minstrelsy. The pioneer company, the Virginia Minstrels, a quartet headed by Daniel Decatur Emmettfirst performed in Garfield, March 4, Library of Congress, Washington, D.
LC-USZC The format of the minstrel show, usually in two parts, was established by the Christy company and changed little thereafter. In part one the performers were arranged in a semicircle, with the interlocutor in the centre and the end men—Mr.
Tambo, who played the tambourineand Mr. Bones, who rattled the bones a pair of clappers, named after the original material from which they were made —at the ends. The interlocutor, in whiteface, usually wore formal attire; the others, in blackface, wore gaudy swallow-tailed coats and striped trousers.
The second part, or olio mixture or medleyconsisted of a series of individual acts that concluded with a hoedown or walk-around in which every member did a specialty number while the others sang and clapped.
Occasionally there was a third part consisting of a farceburlesqueor comic opera. Minstrel troupes composed of black performers were formed after the American Civil Warand a number of these, including the Hicks and Sawyer Minstrels, had black owners and managers.
Initially these shows were staged by all-male companies that included male alto and male soprano singers. A few of the larger companies employed both black and white performers. By the 20th century, women were also appearing in minstrel shows; the great blues singers Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were both minstrel performers early in their careers.
Minstrel shows had effectively disappeared by the midth century. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:Page . The Blackface Minstrel show is considered to be the first distinctly American theatrical form.
A minstrel show is the imitation and often offensive exaggeration of African-American music, culture, vernacular English, physical traits, etc for entertainment. Love words? You must — there are over , words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary..
Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with. More than , words that aren't in . The Blackface Minstrel show is considered to be the first distinctly American theatrical form. A minstrel show is the imitation and often offensive exaggeration of African-American music, culture, vernacular English, physical traits, etc for entertainment.
Minstrel Shows in Old Time Radio. Minstrelsy is considered the first truly American form of entertainment, and as such provides the forms and traditions which would eventually form vaudeville and ultimately the Hollywood movies and TV shows which shape and inform the rest of the world's opinion of American culture.
Edna St. Vincent Millay was unofficially the minstrel of Maine, as her poetry celebrates its coast and countryside. Recent Examples on the Web While Guardian speculates the title is a reference to minstrel shows, the outlet also points to a Prince song with the same name.
And blackface minstrel shows lived on in other parts of the world. One hundred years after minstrel entertainment began in London's music-halls, the convention was revived on television in the form of .